Thanks to a new genre of alcohol-free sprits like Seedlip and Curious Elixirs, it’s easier than ever for restaurants and bars to up their booze-free beverage options beyond lemonade and iced tea. While some bars in Chicago serve a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks, and others offer just one or two, restaurants like Smyth and Elske are upping the game with sophisticated new beverage pairings that sidestep spirits, too. Below, a guide of where to find Chicago’s most interesting alcohol-free cocktails and innovative n/a beverage pairings for designated drivers, and those who choose to avoid booze.Read More
18 Chicago Restaurants and Bars With Excellent Booze-Free Beverages
Patrons might not miss booze when they drink at these spots
1. Young American
Creative cocktail bar Young American in Logan Square offers a bevy of non-alcoholic drinks with the option to add CBD isolate. New to the menu is “#7,” with rooibos, tangerine tea, melon, ginger, lime, and cinnamon; and “#8” with golden oat milk, strawberry, lemon, and mint.
Seasonal new American spot Daisies in Logan Square added a new booze-free drink to its bar menu this past fall. Designed by bartender Kevin Murphy, the earthy elixir “Mushroom Sour” blends shiitake mushroom, demerara sugar, lemon, and egg white.
Bar director Olivia Duncan over at hot Israeli addition Galit in Lincoln Park is mixing “On the Back Burner.” Available since the restaurant’s opening bar menu, the warm n/a drink calls for apple cider, fenugreek, and ginger.
4. Clever Rabbit
Vegetarian restaurant Clever Rabbit in Wicker Park serves n/a drinks named “Cottontails.” Expect spirit-free beverages like the “Charred Grapefruit Aqua Fresca,” with lime, agave, pink peppercorns, and grapefruit Topo Chico sparkling water.
5. Le Colonial Chicago
Gold Coast’s upscale Vietnamese restaurant Le Colonial serves a number of fruit-focused, alcohol-free libations, such as the “Mua He” with pineapple, mango, lychee, and lemon juice; and “Mua Dong” with cucumber, ginger beer and lime juice.
6. Pacific Standard Time
One Off’s breezy, California-inspired restaurant PST in River North definitely embraces spirit-free sips. On January 1, bartender Scott Stroemer added a number of new no-ABV drinks, including a Spanish gin and tonic-inspired option: “Orchard Tonic.” The drink calls for apple cider reduction, clover honey syrup, citric acid, and Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic.
7. Flora Fauna
Flora Fauna, the Latin American and Southeast Asian-inspired number from industry vets Liz Pearce and Jonathan Meyer, has created a unique beverage program. The bar offers draft cocktails designed in a way that guests can customize. Drinkers can choose from five different bases and order one of those solo, or add an extra flavor blend to make it their own. They can also order any booze-free addition as a n/a drink with soda and lime, or tonic and lemon.
8. Gibsons Italia
Gibsons’ newer Italian hotspot balances pasta with cocktails. Bar manager Stephen Gleich is behind options such as “Ginger Grapefruit Fizz” with grapefruit juice, lemon juice, honey, and ginger beer; and “Melon Spritz” with watermelon juice, lime, agave, and cucumber soda.
9. The Publican
At Fulton Market icon the Publican, bartender Will Owen is serving “Forest of Gold” for those looking to skip booze. On the menu since this past winter, the mocktail incorporates verjus rouge, grapefruit, spruce and juniper syrup, coriander, black pepper, allspice, and star anise.
Chef Noah Sandoval’s two-Michelin-starred West Loop tasting menu haunt Oriole offers drinkers the option to sign up for a spirit-free beverage pairing ($95), or to order n/a drinks a la carte. Helmed by drinks expert Julia Momose (Kumiko), options include “Hammersmith Palace” with banana, tarragon, and lime; and “A ∩ B” with Duche de Longueville sparkling cider and genmaicha tea.
Over at lauded Japanese-inspired cocktail lair Kumiko in the West Loop, Julia Momose is mixing and muddling a number of spirit-free drinks. “Protea” calls for adzuki, purple sweet potato vinegar, Seedlip Spice 94, verjus rouge, Fever Tree club soda and Top Note Tonic; “Pepperberry Tonic” incorporates Tasmanian pepperberry, sansho, angelica root, and grapefruit, and Fever Tree elderflower tonic; while “Remedy” mixes kinmokusei, fennel seed, angelica root, and Top Note Tonic.
At chef Paul Virant’s new West Loop Japanese pancake pusher Gaijin, bartender Julius White is offering the n/a “Hibiscus Fizz.” with Rare Tea Cellar Hibiscus Dream syrup, umami shrub, and high pressure club soda.
Two-Michelin-starred Smyth is on top of non-alcoholic beverage pairings. Helmed by head chef Luke Feltz, the drinks, priced at $105, $70, and $45, incorporate ubiquitous preserved ingredients — items grown at Smyth’s agricultural partner, the Farm. Expect blends such as blackberry, juniper, and Earl Grey tea; and honeycrisp apple with fig leaf.
14. Bad Hunter
Veggie-focused Randolph Street restaurant Bad Hunter offers n/a drinks, too. “Petty Before Bitter,” designed by Vinny Starble and Brandon Thrash, was inspired by the tart citrus bitter notes found in apertif wines or amari. The drink calls for dried and fresh citrus peels, dried red berries, hibiscus, rose hip, cinchona bark, gentian root, angelica root, vegetable glycerol, and sparkling water.
Danish-inspired Elske in the West Loop offers seasonal booze-free drinks on its a la carte cocktail list, as well as a juice pairing to complement its set menu. Individual drinks include spirit-free “Shaken” with celery, hops, and lemon; and “Collins,” with carrot, ginger, lime, and curry.
16. Marz Community Brewing Company
Experimental Bridgeport taproom and brewery Marz Community Brewing Company isn’t just focusing on beer. It also offers many booze-free options, including “Flower Power,” a CBD-fueled elixir with ingredients like hibiscus, chamomile, and cinnamon; and “Juniper Fizz,” also spiked with CBD, and enriched with vanilla bean, spruce, and blood orange.
17. Virtue Restaurant
Virtue, Erick Williams’s Southern restaurant that hit Hyde Park just over a year ago, offers spirit-free imbibing options. “The Hummingbird” is flavored with basil and bitter lemon, while “the Duke of Earl” calls for Earl Grey tea, star anise, lemon, and egg white.
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18. Mesler Kitchen | Bar | Lounge
Hyde Park’s new American Mesler Kitchen Bar within the Sophy Hotel embraces seasonal, non-alcoholic elixirs. Consider the “Winter Persuasion” (cranberry, lemon, rosemary), or warm up with a “Hot Cider Situation” (hot apple cider, caramel, maple whipped cream).